One of the worst things you can do as a marketer is to openly slam the competition. I remember years ago when an upstart burger chain came out with a campaign that openly was negative to McDonalds. That was (and still is) a definite “no-no,” The big guys at first just ignored them; but finally they became irritated. Have you seen that short 30 second animated feature, called Bambi meets Godzilla? You can imagine the rest.
Never openly offend a competitor who has more resources than you. This just doesn't make any sense. This was like a kid coming up and kicking a giant in the shins. It got his attention for sure; but the kid didn't count on the reaction. Ronald didn't clown around.
The same goes for slamming an entire category of business. I recently received a press release from a firm that is in the “vacation rental” business. The title of their release was: “The Top Ten Reasons Why Hotels Suck.” Notwithstanding the fact that this kind of slang-vernacular doesn't sit that well with the primary target group of people who have the most time and money to spend going on vacation, (those 50+); this was a giant error in judgment too. This press release offered ten different reasons why staying in hotels was a very bad thing to do. They took the things that can and do go wrong when staying in a hotel, turned them into a top ten list, à la David Letterman, on late night television, then negatively slammed all these aspects of hotel-keeping.
For instance, when referring to “not getting the room you had ordered”, one of their lines was: “maybe you explicitly asked for a view of the ocean, and instead got a view of the murky pool”. Murky pool? Was the word “murky” necessary? Isn't this just a bit too much?
They listed things like: “this isn't the room I ordered”, “waking up to the sound of housekeeping”; “hassles at the reception desk”; “problematic parking”; “noisy neighbors” and “the question of cleanliness” among others.
Notice anything out-of-whack here? Look at that list again. Think about each of the negative things they have emphasized. Can't and don't these same things happen in a vacation rental as well? Each of those concerns listed (except perhaps, parking) is a function of human beings and the delivery of service in a service industry. These problems could happen at the very best rental properties too and they do, frequently.
The person who devised and wrote this press release obviously hasn't been in the service or lodging business. I'm not sure they understand what marketing is…and is NOT.
If I were the client in this case, I would fire this person or firm and seek an immediate replacement…someone who really understands the business and what marketing is and isn't.
If left to his/her own devices, this so-called marketing person (or perhaps they work in a public relations agency) could become quite dangerous…to you, the client. Left alone, they might quickly bring the ire of a complete industry down on your head! Industries have associations. They exist for a purpose. Imagine if an association really gets ticked off with your shenanigans. Can you pay that price?
Never, ever slam your competition openly like this. Remember that whenever you stand up and point your finger at someone else, (do it now and look at your own hand) you will always have at least three fingers pointing back at you!
This tactic really angers your competitor (this might not be a good idea in itself, remember what happened to the upstart burger chain). Moreover, these kinds of blockhead moves make you look like a self-serving jerk who doesn't understand his/her own business.
Take the high road. More than ever, the general public is sick and tired of this kind of advertising. It will come back and bite you in the you-know-what. Remember the tune by Jim Croce: “don't tug on Superman's cape.” (If you'd like to see and hear what I couldn't write in this article, click on the live video link to SEE and HEAR more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWP7Se6FSG0).
Play the game fairly. Make sure your business is properly “differentiated” from the others. Then it will stand out in the sea of mediocrity full of copy-cats. Point out the positive differences and show the prospective customer why s/he should try you.
That is marketing.